THE operation to haul the Maid of the Loch paddle steamer out of Loch Lomond for a major hull survey has run into problems after the 555-ton vessel slipped back into the water, according to reports.

Accounts from the scene suggest that a rope or cable may have snapped as the historic ship was being winched on to the slipway at Balloch Pier.

It's understood that the winching operation has now been abandoned for the day, with the ship being secured back at her berth at the pier itself.

One eyewitness said: "It looked like a cable snapped, and the whole vessel just slid back into the water.

"It was like watching it being launched in reverse."

According to a statement posted on the Maid of the Loch's @maidtosail Twitter account: "Unfortunately an incident has happened with what we believe to be the carriage and the ship is now back in the water.

"We will now secure her back to the pier to assess the situation. Thanks for your support today, updates will be provided once we know more. #maidoftheloch"